1996 spawned one of the greatest classic shareware games of all time Escape Velocity sent us hurtling out into a strange new universe in a small shuttlecraft, with only the most basic shielding to protect us from the hostile cosmos.
Escape Velocity is a 2d space combat, delivery quest and trading game in which you ascend from being an unknown and lowly shuttlecraft captain into the guy or gal who has to save the Galaxy!
When starting out, you need to fly missions and trade basic resources in order to afford the credits to survive and progress. There are several amazing ships to choose from, the most cost efficient being the long range and versatile scout ship. With enough weapons to make it a solid threat, cargo space to cover most missions and the speed and agility to avoid conflict where possible, you cannot go wrong with it.
Ships can easily be outfitted with whatever gear you can fit on them. Usually rather than going for combat prowess, I find the best upgrades early on convert weapon space to cargo to maximise the profit from trade routes and add fuel tanks to increase the distance you can travel, speeding up progression.
An honorable mention should go to the Courier which is one of my favorite ships on the game, not so much because it’s a great ship but because it was the first one I bought in the game and I flew it for most of the game the first time I played. The courier is not worth the money if you are a serious gamer but if you want a challenge, it’s an excellent vessel.
If we forget the defender exists, the first combat ready ship at your disposal will be the clipper, which packs just enough of a punch to make it a threat for preying on merchant vessels. You can probably tell at this point that I’m a bit of a pirate. Once you have shot your way through a couple of ships, your combat rating will increase allowing you access to the main missions for the game.
You can either play for the confederation, a bunch of jumped up and officious bureaucrats which wear the tried and tested blue, or be one of the cool kids like me and join the rebellion. Either side will allow you access to a few cool ships and technologies. But terror lurks in the stars above.
I’m the opening text crawl, we are taught that there are aliens which fought against humanity but got drove back into the darkness of space. Now they’re back and meaner than ever and it’s up to you to help to destroy them to keep humanity safe…
Once the universe is saved and you are the hero, become the villain by demanding tribute from the people you just saved. Destroy everything you come across and become a pirate god, hated by the people who you freed from the tentacles of extinction.
Escape Velocity is fun, simple and enjoyable. You can play the game for hours and not get bored, and I have come back to it time and time again. I find that the universe is not very forgiving, much less so if you are stupid enough to play on hardcore mode. Just… remember that escape pod if you do!
Overall, I rate Escape Velocity as a solid 7.5/10. For the time it was one of the best games out there, and even now… In the far future 25 years later… it’s still a great game to play.